Title: James Agee: A life

Photographer: Helen Levitt
Author: Laurence Bergreen
Publisher: E.P. Dutton
Designer: Nancy Etheredge


Image Title: James Agee
Photo Genre: Portraiture
Book Genre: Biography

Helen Levitt's casual portraits of James Agee are a fitting choice for the covers of Laurence Bergreen's biography of the writer and critic. Introduced by their mutual friend Walker Evans, Levitt and Agee went on to collaborate on two films: 'The Quiet One' (1949) and 'In the Street'(1952). Agee also wrote the memorable introductory essay for 'Ways of Seeing', Levitt's first book of photographs.
In the front cover photo, Agee is seen leaning on the closed half of a double door, at once revealed and concealed. The relatively featureless left half of the picture provides a ready-made backdrop for the title text (For a Bantam paperback edition published in 1963, the left half of the image is eliminated altogether).
In a formal sense, the image is curiously reminiscent of Edward (at the time he preferred 'Eduard') Steichen's 1898 self-portrait. KB


To view Steichen's self-portrait, click on the upper 'Point of Interest' image at right.

To view the Bantam paperback, click on the lower 'Point of Interest' image at right.

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